Among many lessons Aunt Anita (Shafer) taught me, I hold closest something her son (my cousin) Greg shared at her memorial service. I almost wrote, just now, that I've no idea how he spoke (let alone so eloquently) that day, but of course that wouldn't be true: he did it through Christ. And I'm so grateful, because he tossed a smooth stone in my direction that day, for sure.
Greg said--one day, when he was a boy--he was horsing around, and he crept to his mother's bedroom door and peered through the crack to see what she might be doing that she hadn't yet scolded him. He said he saw her kneeling by her bed, praying, and that the image came flooding back when--on one of her last days in a battle with brain cancer--he caught her, again: pouring out her heart to Jesus.
Something in my heart cracked open as I listened to Greg, and I have sought, ever since, to live out my prayer life in front of my children, just like Aunt Anita. Because if I really believe in the power of prayer, and I do, why wouldn't I want my children to watch my turning toward God in that way?
Just over a week ago, I tucked Cade in for what I knew would be the last time for nine nights. My heart felt like a rock in my chest, and I told Cade I wanted to pray over him. He said, "Okay, Mom," and he stirred a little, under the covers, and closed his eyes.
I can't remember what I prayed, exactly, but I prayed aloud, and for a long time. After the "amen," Cade opened his eyes, and I knew by the way he looked at me that my ceasing to pray had awakened him.
And remembering the relaxation in his lanky body; the sleepy gaze out of his great, gray eyes; and his sheepish grin as he said, "Sorry, Mom. I think I fell asleep, a little," has carried me this last week. Because I know our house has become a place where prayer is commonplace: a thing under which to snuggle, and sleep.